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CHAT: living conditions/conditionally Re:MiscellaneousNonsense

From:Thomas R. Wier <artabanos@...>
Date:Saturday, August 19, 2000, 0:02

> On Fri, 18 Aug 2000, John Cowan wrote: > > There are Native American lgs (but I forget just which ones) that habitually > > use north/south/east/west instead of left/right/front/back to refer to > > directions. > > I heard they were Australian languages. Am I wrong on this count? Or is > this an urban legend of linguistics?
It could easily be both. It's a good case, like onomatopoeia, where language is fairly directly influenced by the outside environment. For languages that developed in flat plain-like regions where reference points are few and far between, like the Pueblo languages of New Mexico and Arizona, there is a tendency for cardinal-point directional systems. In those languages in particular, there are six cardinal points: the four European ones, plus the zenith and nadir. I've been told that in certain parts of the midwest, this has also become a part of their English: people refer to the north or south side of a building, rather than the front or back. In regions where terrain is rough and varied, like that of the Guarijio of Northern Mexico, there is more of a tendency for people to use relative directional systems. ====================================== Tom Wier | "Cogito ergo sum, sed credo ergo ero." ======================================